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State agency grants BG&E; $12.9 million rate increase


The state Public Service Commission approved yesterday a $12.9 million increase in electricity and gas rates for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. to pay for the company's conservation program.

The increases, which become effective July 1, will add 15 cents to the average monthly electric bill for 600 kilowatt hours and 14 cents to a monthly gas bill for 90 therms.

The money will finance BG&E; programs that offer rebates to customers who use more efficient lighting, heating and cooling equipment. The goal is to forestall the need for more power plants.

With those programs, BG&E; expects to cut its projected peak energy demand in 2000 by 1,000 megawatts, the electricity generated by one power plant.

"This is going to save our customers money in the long run," said S. Edward Hargest, manager of BG&E;'s economic research department.

"We may be paying a little now so that we can save a lot more later," said People's Counsel John M. Glynn, the state official who represents ratepayers before the PSC.

About 10.6 percent of the electricity surcharge and 5 percent of the gas increase will go toward compensating BG&E; for lost sales.

There will be adjustments in the surcharge, Mr. Hargest said.

Under one of the conservation programs, which has been in effect since February, consumers can receive rebates ranging from $80 to $700 for buying energy-efficient air conditioners, heat pumps, gas furnaces and gas boilers.

To develop the program and determine the surcharge, BG&E; has been working with a group called the Collaborative since May.

The group includes the staff of the Public Service Commission, the People's Counsel, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Industrial Group, the Building Owners and Managers Association of Metropolitan Baltimore Inc., Bethlehem Steel Corp. and the Sierra Club.

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